The proliferation of crossovers and SUVs has had a negative impact on minivans as customer demand for MPVs has drastically decreased in the last couple of decades. However, the body style remains quite popular in China, so much so that Buick considers a family hauler can serve as a range-topping model. The GL8 Flagship concept unveiled at Auto Guangzhou 2021 acts as a vision into the brand’s future in which the luxury minivan sits at the very top of the firm’s portfolio.
Developed in collaboration with the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), the premium minivan has a bold design with sleek headlights shaped like a boomerang and a closed-off grille denoting it is fully electric. The greenhouse is one of the most unusual we’ve seen lately, while the traditional side mirrors have been replaced by cameras to give the profile a cleaner look.
As you would expect from a concept car, the Buick GL8 Flagship has massive wheels and does away with the B-pillar to make it easier to get in and out of the cabin. It’s still a minivan with sliding rear doors, spacious enough to accommodate the whole family in a cozy interior featuring a giant 30-inch screen. Interestingly, there’s a small touchscreen embedded into the steering wheel where you’d normally find the airbag.
As far as the Smart Pod is concerned, it foretells an even more distant future, one in which we will all be passengers in our own cars. Buick has removed the steering wheel altogether, suggesting the unusual concept is fully autonomous with an even bigger screen inside, measuring a whopping 50 inches. It rides on General Motors’ Ultium platform and boasts micro-LEDs instead of conventional headlights and taillights.
The real magic is inside where the Buick Smart Pod has everything from deployable tables and an air purifying system to noise-canceling tech and a sleep seat that fully reclines. It goes without saying the concept is too wild to reach production anytime soon, but the GL8 Flagship is likely a preview of the luxury minivan’s next generation arriving in the next few years.